Hope for stroke sufferers may be just around the corner as a group of Japanese scientists have announced a candidate therapeutic drug that could enhance the benefits of their post-stroke rehabilitation.
The group, which includes researchers from Yokohama City University and Toyama Chemical Co., a Fujifilm Group company, said the effects have been confirmed experimentally in mice and macaques. They plan to start clinical trials on stroke patients by the end of this fiscal year.
“The drug is likely helping the formation of new brain circuits to replace injured parts,” said Takuya Takahashi, a Yokohama City University professor of physiology, who was on the team of researchers. “The drug is expected to help improve people’s lives if only it becomes available.”
Damage to the nerve cells of the brain, caused by a cerebral infarction or brain hemorrhage, can create lingering paralysis in limbs. Rehabilitation that involves repeated training has been the mainstream therapy for helping the recovery of motor functions.
The scientists on the team set their sights on a chemical compound that is under development as a prospective therapeutic drug for Alzheimer-type dementia patients. They conducted tests on mice with brain injuries, which they set in motion to snatch up food.
Mice that were fed with doses of the compound after suffering damage to the brain recovered to near-initial conditions after about 50 days of rehab. Mice that were given either the training alone, or the compound alone with no training, never recovered.
The researchers also engaged crab-eating macaques in motion for picking up food with their fingers in a similar manner. Macaques that were given the rehab alone never recovered at the end of about a month, but those that were given both shots of the compound and the rehab showed near-full recovery of their motor functions.
The research results were published April 6 in the U.S. scientific journal Science.